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2017-18 Budget

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Where the proposed budget currently stands

Last updated March 16, 2017

Schalmont administrators and Board of Education are currently in the process of building the 2017-18 Schalmont Central School District. Residents are encouraged to join in by attending a variety of budget-related events during this time.

The typical first step in constructing a new school budget is to create a “rollover” budget. A rollover budget assumes the district will keep all programming and staff exactly as it is and budgets for any known increases in salaries and pensions, while making projections for items such as energy, health insurance, etc. for the next year. This now becomes the preliminary or working budget and serves as a starting point for discussion.

The 2016-17 expense budget for Schalmont is $46,570, 427. The rollover expense budget for 2017-18 is estimated at $48,340,200. This leaves the district facing a $1.6 million expense budget gap.

The revenue side of the budget is a little  more complicated. Last year, $1 million in fund balance was allocated to the 2016-17 budget. That leaves the revenue side of the rollover budget for 2017-18 with an additional $1 million gap from the start, resulting in a total budget gap for 2017-18 of $ 2.6 million.

However, there are several factors that will still affect the development process (see What We Don't Know below), and the budget gap may and most likely will change between now and when the board of education adopts a proposed budget on April 10.

Considerations affecting the budget gap

The first factor that affected the budget gap is state aid. With the release of the Executive Budget Proposal on Jan. 17, schools across the state received estimated state aid runs. These are based on the governor’s proposed budget and often change by the time the final state budget is adopted April 1.

Currently, Schalmont is expected to receive an estimated $100,000 increase in foundation aid for the next school year. This would bring the gap down to $2.5 million.

With staff retirments set, the district is expecting a $300,00 "breakage" or savings between retirees' salaries and those of  new hirers. This reduces the gap further to 2.2 million.

If th district would once again apply $1 million in fund balance to offset the budet, the gap would be reduced to 1.2 million.

The district has a maximum tax levy increase for 2017-18 of 1.46 percent. This would allow the district to increase the levy up to $406,127 and still pass the budget with a simple majority vote.

The district has the option to increase the levy beyond this limit. Currently, the board and the administration are considering the possibility of exceeding the tax levy limit.

If the board presents voters with a proposed 2 percent levy increase, or $550,000, it would reduce the budget gap to $700,00. 

The Budget Advisory Committee suggested the board consider a tax levy increase of 2.95 percent, or $822,500. This would reduce the budget gap to $400,000.

Of course, the board could consider a budget with a tax levy increase somewhere between 2 and 2.95 percent as well. However, presenting any budget with a tax levy increas more than doing so would require a 60 percent super majority to approve the budget.

As part of the process, administrators have begun identifying potential areas for reduction.

Continued discussion

As the process develops and the above options and additional considerations are weighed, the board will continue to have discussions on several topics, including:

  • Is there a way to increase revenue? (e.g. exceed the tax levy limit?)
  • Where can we decrease expenses? (POTENTIAL AREAS FOR REDUCTION Below)
  • What, if any, fund balance is the board willing to apply to the budget?(The district's current fund balance is $2,039,472.)
  • What levy increase will our community support?

Residents and staff are encouraged to continue to join in the discussion. Questions, comments, and concerns are welcome. Together, we can work to build a budget that meets the needs of our students while remaining mindful of the limitations of our taxpayers.

The board will adopt a proposed budget at its April 10 meeting. Residents will then vote on the budget on Tuesday, May 16 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the high school new gym lobby, 1 Sabre Drive, Schenectady.

What we do know

  • Schalmont Central School District is expected to receive an estimated $100,000 increase in state aid.
  • The Consumer Price Index is set at 1.26%. This number is an important part of the tax levy limit calculation.
  • The current estimated tax levy limit is 1.46% increase or $406,127. This is the maximum amount the district can increase the property tax levy and still need a simple majority to approve the budget.
  • Contractual obligations for salary and step increases.
  • The district’s contribution rates to the TRS and ERS retirement system.
  • Any staff retirements.
  • Final health care and other insurance premiums.

What we don’t know

  • The amount of state aid for Schalmont in the final state budget (expected April 1).
  • Effects of the possible expiration of the state’s “Millionaire’s Tax.”
  • Effects of legislation proposed by a new president and Congress.

Present considerations to close the gap

  • Consider a proposed tax levy increase of 2 percent (instead of from 1.46 percent), which would equal a tax levy increase of $550,000 (However, because this number is over the district's threshold, a 60 percent majority vote would be needed to approve the budget.) Read more about exceeding the tax levy limit.
  • Apply money from fund balance = $1,000,000
  • Apply breakage from retirements = $300,000 (6 total)
  • Make reductions from program=$700,000

Priorities

Budget priorities are guided by goals established in the district's strategic plan by the Board of Education, the district and the community.

Schalmont Advance 2018 is an ambitious five-year strategic plan or “road map” that identifies five strategic goals for the success and improvement of the district. It was approved by the Schalmont Board of Education in March 2014 and is continuously updated based on implementation.  Learn more about the plan at
http://schalmont.org/strategicplan/.

Residents also have the opportunity annually to share their priorities with the district as part of the budget vote exit survey.

It is a combination of these priorities that helps inform budget decisions.

The five goals outlined in the strategic plan are:

  •  Accelerated Academic Achievement
  • Develop and Maintain Highly Qualified Personnel
  • Engage Families and Community Partners
  • Ensure safety and Wellness
  • Align Effective Business and Support Operations

Top-rated priorities according to residents who have taken the budget vote exit survey for the past five years:

  • College level/AP/honors course
  • Enrichment programs and accelerated courses
  • Technology
  • Art / music / electives
  • Class size
  • Interscholastic athletics

Potential areas for reductions

Administrators are weighing potential reductions that would save the most money, while preserving our priorities.

Potential action / savings

  • Reduce class sections due to decreased enrollment (MS/HS)  / $50,000
  • Decrease building/dept budgets by 10 percent /  $14,000
  • Reduce non-instructional staff / $70,000
  • Assign copier clicks to reduce paper/printing costs / $10,000 - $20,000
  • Consolidate bus runs; adhere to walk/ride policy  / $25,000
  • Reduce co-curricular offerings K-12 and/or field trips, athletic tournaments; late bus run  / $3,500 - $7,500
  • Reduce communications staff hours /  $20,000
  • Cut Technology TOSA /  $60,000
  • Reduce MS/HS electives and interventionists  / $157,000
  • Decrease # teacher assistants and teacher aides districtwide /  $90,000
  • Bring back Special Education programs from outside placements /  $150,000
  • Reduce administrator positions 1.0 FTE / $100,000